Joel Pereira has spoken out about the prospect of making his first Manchester United start against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The Portuguese youngster, who begun this season on loan at Primera Liga side Belenenses, was brought back to Old Trafford in January and handed his first senior appearance against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup.
Jose Mourinho, mindful of resting the majority of his side ahead of the Europa League final just three days later, confirmed that Pereira, alongside six other youngsters, could feature on Sunday.
And Pereira, reflecting on his upcoming debut, made it clear that he would grab the opportunity with both hands.
“I hope so, we’ll see how it goes. I am working hard for it and if I get the opportunity I will grab it with both hands, so let’s see Sunday,” he said.
“It was already a dream come true when I came on against Wigan, I work hard for moments like this and hopefully, I will get more opportunities and more chances and more minutes also, I’m working hard every day for it and every game at Old Trafford is a dream.”
“I’m happy with what Mourinho has said about me and the confidence he has given to me and the only way to pay him back is by doing well, working hard, and giving everything every day in training and on the pitch.”
Mourinho recently noted that Pereira could be the best Portuguese goalkeeper of his generation, and others who have watched him regularly have uttered similar sentiments. Rochdale manager Keith Hill, who oversaw a loan spell for Pereira back in 2015, referred to the 20-year-old as a “top, top keeper”.
A debut – a chance to demonstrate his worth to the watching world – feels somewhat overdue. Pereira breached the first team this season, if only as a third choice keeper, and a clean sheet against Palace will only further consolidate his place in Mourinho’s reckoning going forward.